Eating healthfully on a budget can be a challenge. Looking at it as an investment in your future helps, plus knowing a few smart strategies to save money while shopping, you can save money while eating well. – it can be manageable (and delicious).
While processed food may be cheaper, it costs more in the long run in terms of your health. Eating poor quality foods will have an impact on your quality of life, as processed foods contain fewer vitamins and minerals and our favorite, fiber. Consuming adequate vitamins, minerals and fiber support a healthy immune system which in turn lowers a person’s risk of developing chronic disease, cancer among them. .We look at healthy eating as an investment, something to be enjoyed now, which will also benefit you in the future. With that in mind, there are several strategies you can employ to save yourself money while increasing the overall nutrient density of your diet.
- Take stock– Before going shopping, check your cupboards and refrigerator to see what you already have on hand. Many people forget about the dried goods at the back of the cupboard, but these are perfect to use as a base for a healthy meal. Use them before they go bad!
- Plan your meals– It’s surprising how much easier eating gets when you have a plan! Knowing what you will be eating for the next few days or week will allow you to buy only what you need when you go to the store, saving you time and money.
- Take advantage of offers– It’s a good idea to stock up on items which will keep, such as frozen vegetables, canned foods, such as beans and tomatoes, and dried goods like whole grains, dried beans, and oats. Frozen and canned foods are just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts but have the advantage of being less expensive and much longer shelf life. Keep an eye out for flyers or use apps such as Flipp which will inform you of the deals and coupons currently on offer in your local stores.
- Compare unit prices– Unit prices will be displayed on the shelf or online product page and will help you decide if it’s worth buying a larger quantity of the item. Remember to only buy bigger if you will use it before it goes bad, otherwise, there is no saving. Also, when shopping at the market, be sure to look at the top and bottom of the store shelves, as the most expensive products are usually placed at eye-level.
- Serve appropriate portions– Most Americans are already eating portions that are too large, particularly when it comes to meat. Bulk up your meat recipes with pulses like lentils and beans to reduce the amount of meat you need, while still providing protein. A good rule of thumb is to have ¼ of your plate be filled with animal protein and fill ¾ of your plate with plants, including vegetables, fruit, beans and legumes, and whole grains.
- Don’t follow food fads– Healthy eating and wellness are now all the rage so it can be easy to fall prey to rare and exotic ingredient suggestions which are usually very expensive. Focus on buying regular fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products which will give you all the nutrition you need.
- Buy store-brand products– There is no nutritional benefit to eating big-name brands over their generic counterparts, and well-known brands are usually much more expensive. Again, check the bottom of the grocery store shelves.
- Look at your overall budget– If you look at your overall spending, you may be able to identify areas where you could save money. For example, spending $5 per day on coffee adds up to over $25 dollars per week, which could buy a lot of healthy foods! Also, making 1-3 nights of the week vegetarian will help reduce your reliance on animal-based proteins which can add up.